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Three Reasons To Stop Using Auto Direct Messages

Have you ever followed someone on Twitter and shortly after received a direct message thanking you for following? Of course you have. The real question is however, what was the content in that message? Was it a nice personal and specific message to you? Or, was it an “auto direct message” with some obvious attempt to sell you something and very generic? Something like: “Thanks for following. Check out my book or product. Or, follow me here (as in Facebook or Linked)”. If it was the latter, you are not alone. It’s really easy to set up those auto direct messages. However, is it really what you want to be doing? No! It is not in my humble opinion. In fact, it’s long overdue to to stop using auto direct messages.

More than a decade into social media and people still want the easy way out when building an audience or selling a product or service. I suppose I can’t blame them. After all, it is a busy world and using multiple social media, maintaining websites and using traditional marketing can be very time consuming. Like anything social media should be executed properly. This means first having a digital strategy that is part of an integrated marketing strategy and of course ties into your corporate objectives – whatever they may be. But let’s look at three reasons that you and your business should stop using auto direct messages.

  1. Auto Direct Messages Don’t Make People Look Sophisticated TaylorMade Solutions

Perhaps when Twitter first emerged and people used direct messages also affectionately known as DMs, it was pretty awesome to get an instant response after following someone. That time however, has come and gone. Rather than look sophisticated or super busy, you actually come across as taking short cuts. One of the original intentions of Twitter was to foster engagement. To build relationships with people that you couldn’t otherwise connect with in person. Additionally, if you are a loyal customer and love a certain brand, it was a way to connect and build a relationship.

2. You are Likely Spamming People and Breaking Anti-Spam Laws

Around the world laws for privacy and digital communications are changing.These laws often don’t only apply to a person or entity in the country in they live and/or operate a business in, but they cross geographic borders and digital boundaries. For example, the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, also known as CASL has specific laws government social media communications. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which covers Europe also has very specific rules for #privacy and while it has been in effect for a few years now, come May 25, 2018, full enforcement and penalties come into affect. This law is not just for Europeans, but for ANY business with customers IN Europe.

3. It’s Not All About You

Let’s think about our followers as more than just a number or someone that you can push your wares on. Instead, it’s about relationships. And, while some people still don’t believe that social media is about relationships, there are many more of us that believe that you can’t and shouldn’t use social media like we used old school print media. We need to build trust with our audience. We need to be authentic. When I follow someone and there response is thanks, buy this from me or add to my follower count on this other channel, it screams disingenuous  intentions to me. It is the same thing as someone introducing him or herself to you at a party. They barely get a hello my name is X and you are already selling them “something” they may or may not need or want. The rule of thumb in any business is to form a relationship. An auto DM is not even close to doing that.

There are many other reasons not to do auto DMs and I would like to hear your reasons.

As a small business it’s not always easy to navigate the social media strategy needed. If you need assistance, we can help – keeping in mind #privacy legislation. Reach out! We are here to help.

3 Social Media Mistakes You are Making & How to Fix Them Immediately

While social media is not the new kid on the block anymore, we are as a population still learning how to effectively leverage social media for business. For this reason alone, those of us who are PR/Marketing/Communications practitioners cringe when we hear people profess to be social media experts. Even after using the tools for more than a decade we are all still learning how to adjust to the changing world that we operate within. We know that there are no real experts. There are people with experience using social media.  Some of us even have thousands of hours using social media. In fact, there are many people with 10 years of social media under their belts.  Remember that Malcolm Gladwell claims that to be a master in something you need at least 10,000 hours. Combine that experience with PR/Marketing/Communications experience and these are the people who can help businesses better use the tools to effectively meet business objectives.

So, just what are the social media mistakes that I see most often? And, better yet, how do you fix them?

1. Failing to Know/Understand Your Audience

Far to0 often I see people using social media channels or tools in the same way that they use social for their personal communications. How you use social in your personal life is NOT how you should use it for your professional/business needs.  It is essential to know and understand your audience(s).

The Fix:  Here are some quick and easy questions to think about and answer:

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What channels do they use?
  • How are they using the channels?
  • And, do they expect a business connecting/engaging with them through the channels?

These are just some questions that you should be able to answer. There are more of course and they depend on a number of strategies/tactics.  However, starting with these questions should lead you in the right direction. If in doubt, find a qualified professional to help you. This is an investment that will definitely have a quick ROI.

2. Thinking that Social Media is a Stand Alone Tactic or Strategy

It is not really surprising that 10 years into social media we are still doing this. After all there are more consultants selling social media as a stand alone option than not. I would caution managers however, to really pause and reflect about this. For example, if you are a sales manager, do you approach your sales plan in one of’s? Or, do you have an overall strategy for your product/services based on a number of variables that all fold up into one plan? It is the latter of course. Your sales plan is all about meeting corporate sales objectives. The same goes for your social media. It is NOT a stand alone.  Repeat after me: social media is not a stand alone tactic, tool or strategy. It is a part of the overall strategy and is but one tool or tactic to be used strategically to meet an overall objective or objectives. These objectives should be measured too, but that is another blog post.

The Fix: Don’t be fooled by wrong information:

If someone suggests that social media doesn’t link to the rest of your business: run! Run fast and run far. Gone are the days of silos. To effectively leverage social you need and integrated strategy. And, if someone tells you that can’t be done, well, you have the wrong person helping you. It really is that straight forward. When you hire a marketing strategist or a social media consultant, be sure that he or she is well rounded in terms of experience. Because someone has a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile does not make them the right resource. What is their exact experience? Do they have PR, marketing, communication, business development and customer services experience? Has the person worked in social media in a number of capacities including but not limited to: community management, engagement, listening, playbook development, ads, analysis, research, etc. If the person can demonstrate that he or she has this experience, hire him or her immediately.

3.  Not Having a Social Media Playbook

A social media playbook can be a lifesaver. Imagine you and your company are going along your merry way sharing information on social when all of a sudden someone makes a very disparaging remark about your products, services or your company in general. The first comment is made on your Facebook page and you or your employee removes the comment. Good idea? Likely not. What could happen is the person who made the comment will repost and/or make it known that you delete unfavourable comments. This could very well result in a number of people calling your openness and transparency into question and filling your feed with unflattering comments. What then? What about if they are Tweeting about you? You can’t delete their Tweets? What if it is a blog post? What then?

The Fix: Have a Living Playbook:

Playbooks will vary according to your business and the level of listening and engagement that you do. At the very least you should have a plan about what you do and do not respond to, what you escalate and to whom. Having an up-to-date playbook can save you and your team a lot time and anguish. It sets the stage for how you operate. It gives everyone the same guidelines. It is your brand and you need consistency. For a sample of how to get started, here is an ebook that I wrote while I worked for Radian6 (a.k.a salesforce.com). This is just a starter to wet your appetite. I have worked with playbooks that have been five pages. I have worked with playbooks that have been 150 pages. It all depends on your business and how you use social. In any event, you need to be prepared!

If you have any questions on your social media plan and your overall integrated strategy, I would love to help. Feel free to follow me on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest marketing and communications best practices, news and insights.

The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media

I have been working in social media now for more than a decade and I have pretty much seen it all – from really nasty trolls to people still trying to using old school tactics to misusing channels and on and on.  In reality though the #1 reason people fail at social media is basic and completely avoidable and here’s how:

The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormadecanada.com

Not knowing your audience is actually quiet significant.  If you don’t know who you are speaking to, it is hard to speak their language.  For example, if you have kids you know that each child has his or her own personality.  The tone and words you use with one child may not work as well with another.  The same is true for your prospects and customers.  If you only speak in your industry lingo and/or use terms that they don’t use, you might as well be speaking klingon.

Also keeping with this theme is the fact that if you don’t know your audience, you don’t likely know where they are hanging out, what they are reading, what forums they belong to, what social networks, etc.  In the good ole days, if we had big budgets we could throw a bunch of money at newspaper and/or trade magazine ads and we were likely to catch the attention of many.  This is not as effective today.  Instead, we need to be better informed.  We need to know and understand all of these pieces of information about our customers.  So, how do you do this?  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Develop Customer Personas

Customer personas are fictional representations of your prospects or customers that help you segment them, determine what role they play in the buying decision, what interests they have, how they make decisions and more.  When done well, they really make a difference for marketing your product and/or service.

2.  Don’t Jump into Social Media

Ideally, you will seek guidance on how best to approach using social. But, if you can’t do that, never jump right in.  First “listen.”  In the “business” this means sign up for some networks and learn how to use the tool – I mean actually use it, but without pushing or promoting your business.  First just listen and watch to see how are others are using it.  Here are some quick reads to help you:

3.  Hire for Expertise 

On more than a few occasions I have met and worked with people who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to hire a person with marketing expertise.  Instead they hired believing that the person could acquire experience over time.  It didn’t work out.  Most people I know don’t have that luxury of time in their business.

That’s where I came in.  As a Marketing Practitioner with a great deal of experience, I and people like me can at the very least, guide you through the process and help you make SMART hiring decisions.  I have helped more than a few business owners through this process by developing their strategy with them, including policies, processes, etc.  Then I helped them hire people who while not having all the experience and expertise, have the potential.  As a result, the new hires have a higher probability of success.  They have the road map, policies and processes to guide them through the initial days.  I also prepare a learning plan and act as mentor during a set and agreed upon period.

There is of course more to marketing that what I am eluding to above, but it is a starting point.  And, if you have additional points or insight to add, please chime in. Comments are of course welcome.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Content Marketing Tips for Start-ups

Entrepreneurs have a lot on their minds when doing a start-up.  Not only are they building a business, but because of being resource-challenged, they are also doing their own marketing a lot of the time.  Those who have marketing mentors will get some great advice on how to actually develop and execute marketing plans, strategies and tactics, but  for those that don’t have mentors just yet, here are 5 content marketing tips specifically for start-ups.

5 Content Marketing Tips for  Start-ups, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of flatironcomm.com

1.  You are a Brand

If you haven’t had much of a personal brand before starting up a company, you will definitely have one now. And, depending on your business, you could be a real hot commodity for people.  This means that everything you do, there will be someone watching. With start-ups being super sexy right now, founders of start-ups are like the modern day rock stars. Everyone wants to say they knew you “when.”

This really is where the challenge/opportunity is. You can and will have influence. So, while you might not have thought about what you Tweeted, posted to Facebook, or shared in some forum previously, you now need to think about it. How does what you are doing/sharing reflect not just on your own brand, but your start-up brand? What will advisors think? What will potential investors think?

2.  Develop a Content Calendar

This is probably one of the big misses that many Content Marketers have.  Never forget to create a content calendar. Creating a calendar and mapping out what is happening will help you develop themes and key areas to focus your content marketing efforts.  Your calendar should also include what channels you will leverage, what paid media you will use and any influencers that you include.

Having a content calendar will really help you be focused and clear.

3.  Know Your Audience

If there is one constant I have for reminding people of how to do content marketing, it is to know your audience.  Exactly who are you targeting with your marketing? Where do they hang out? What language do they use? What information do “they” want. What information will help your audience? When you know this you need to tailor your language as well as where you share your content to meet audience expectations.

This also means writing for your start-up audience and not your personal audience. Going back to point #1, carefully consider what you create for blog posts for example. Remember you are not writing for your college dorm friends. You are now writing for your business audience. So, forget blogging about your past weekend adventures at the bars.

4.  Include a Call to Action

Great content is always helped with a call to action at the end of each post.  Be sure to always include one.

5.  Measure

Once you start publishing content, be sure to measure your results. What is working? What is not working?  Track your numbers and understand them. Measuring your progress will help guide you to make informed decisions about what is working well for you and your business, saving you time while also generating leads.

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10 Tips to Execute a Perfect Webinar

As a part of my day-to-day, I regularly participate in webinars both as a registrant, and on occasion, I also get to be a presenter.  A well thought out webinar can be an invaluable tool for participants.  It can provide insightful information that is immediately executable.  It is also a great tool for companies to build and maintain trust with their prospects and community.  So, to make a webinar memorable, here are 10 tips to execute a perfect webinar.10 Tips to Execute a Perfect Webinar

 1. Technology

Get your technology figured out first.  You might end up with the greatest line-up of speakers, but if your technology doesn’t work, you not only frustrate your speakers, you frustrate your audience. If you are delayed in starting or can’t loop in your speaker, you are effectively eroding the trust and creditability you have built.  Additionally, if your audio is so horrible that your participants can’t really hear what is being said, you will lose people and likely not get them back.

Be sure to have a testing process in place.  Even after you have your technology down pat, include a test time with each of your presenters.  Run through how it will work.  This is not for you, but for your presenter.  It will help that person or persons feel more comfortable with expectations and clarify any miscommunications.

From experience I can tell you that if you don’t have this perfect, you will lose people. I sat in on a webinar just this week and abandoned it only 3 minutes in.  The audio was so poor that it was painful to listen.

2.  Audience

Any good marketing person is going to speak to you about your audience.  Before you can do anything to communicate your brand, your offering, your value, you need to know and understand your audience.   If you don’t know who you are speaking to, how can you help?

3.  Content

You have likely heard this before, but it bears repeating.  Develop and have a content calendar.  Develop themes for your content and find different and interesting ways to deliver it to your audience.  A webinar should be only one aspect.

4.  A Plan

Jumping into webinars are not a good idea even if you have already executed 1-3.  You still need a plan.  Who will moderate?  Who will find your presenters?  Do you have guidelines for your presenters?  How will you communicate your webinar?  What is your follow-up plan?  What is your social plan?  These are just some things that you need to consider.

5.  Presenters

Be sure to select presenters that are not only experts in their field, but also comfortable speaking publicly as well as through a webinar format.  People that are usually good public speakers are usually very good at doing webinars too.  You want someone who uses his or her voice well – in other words has good inflection.   Your presenters should also be selected based on the ability to connect with others.  If you attended a session and a speaker only talked about himself or thought he was the funniest guy on the planet, chances are your audience will feel the same.

Also be certain that your presenters aren’t going to read from as script or from their presentation.  Aside from being absolutely boring, it is very obvious when someone is reading – even when you can’t see him or her.

That webinar I abandoned earlier this week had at least one person who was clearly reading a script.  Based on the caliber of the company hosting the webinar and all of the presenters, this was a let down.

6.  Promotion

Be sure to have a clear communications plan in place for your promotion of each webinar.  What channels will you use? When will you start to promote each webinar?  How easy is it for people to register?  What is the hashtag that will be used?  What is the headline to be used to entice people?  How will you share the bios of the presenters?  Will you record the webinar and share it afterwards? If so, where and when?

7.  Social Media Community Team

Always have your social media community team prepped and lined up for the event.  Ensure that they are able to listen to the channels and respond appropriately.  Someone should also be in charge of collecting questions and ensuring that the presenter gets them in a timely fashion.  As a part of the planning stages, it should be discussed with the presenter if questions will be held until the end or addressed as they come in?  Should some be grouped, etc.

There should also be one person dedicated to issues.

If you don’t have a social media community team, that is ok.  However, be sure to recruit people from your department, office or volunteers to assist in these tasks.  Regardless of who you use, run through the process, cover off expectations and address what-if scenarios.  

8.  The Main Event

Be sure to start your webinar on time.  Introduce your guests, topic and lay out the house keeping items like hashtags, how questions will be handled, etc.  

9.  Back-up Plan

Like my Girl Scout Leader always said:  Be Prepared.  Always expect the best, but plan and prepare for the worst.  Think about what could go wrong and have a Plan B to address it.  Hopefully you will never need to execute on Plan B, but if you do…you will have it covered.

10. Next Event Promotion and Close Out

Phew, you are now at the end of your webinar and it went swimmingly!  Be sure to thank everyone for attending, including your guest.  If you planned a contest or draw associated with the webinar remember to take care of that.  Be sure to let people know where to find the recording of the webinar if one was made and if there will be a summary posted to your blog.  Finally be sure to promote the date, time, theme and presenter for your next webinar.

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